Given the Rapids recent run of form, I'm taking a brief break by writing a more personal article.
About a year ago (well, 14 months ago, to be exact), I started writing once a week for the Burgundy Wave. Why? Frankly, I wanted to learn more about the game. Some people watch the matches (which I do), and even go to the matches (which I do when possible). But some write! English philosopher Francis Bacon once wrote: "Reading makes a full man, conversation a ready man, and writing an exact man." I write to interact with fans who understand the Colorado Rapids and the game in general far better than I, but also to work through my own understanding of the game that clicks in my own mind.
Reading Makes a Full Man. I enjoy reading about soccer. I've read through Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, George Vescey's Eight World Cups, and Thirty One Nil among others. Now, I'm reading Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, as well as Jonathan Wilson's Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics. These books are a distant second to my enjoyment of reading theology and history and leadership books, to be clear. But understanding how football worldwide interacts and is entangled with the socio-political climate of most every other nation in the world fascinates me. (Imagine if the Rapids or the Broncos were tied that closely with the governmental workings here in the state, or if D.C United or the Washington Redskins winning or losing had political implications? I feel as if, when I read about soccer, I begin to understand the ebb and flow of the nations. Fascinating.
And now, the article that comes out from the New York Times ("When It Comes to Names, Even MLS Rivals Can Be United") about how American fans like the traditional European flavor of team names (Sporting Kansas City, D.C./Atlanta/Minnesota United, FC Dallas rather than SC). I wouldn't have paid much attention the article, but the gratuitous shot over the bow by Real Salt Lake's Dave Checkett's caught my attention:
"The Burn, the Rapids, the Chicago Fire — listening to that, you couldn’t tell if it was a lacrosse team or an arena football team," Checketts said. "Kind of these wacky nicknames. The whole league lacked credibility."
An aside here: as a former MLS outsider, I never gave a thought to the notion that Colorado Rapids was any more 'wacky' than Colorado Rockies or Denver Nuggets. No, it's not European, but so what? But I digress. The point is, there's a marvelous amount of ink now being spilled that helps newbies like myself get a hold of what it's all about. What books on the subject of soccer do you enjoy?
Conversation a Ready Man. Remember the time when you first grew to love soccer? I grew up where, to echo Vescey, soccer wasn't just seen as un-American but also as anti-American. But do you remember the time when you not only loved soccer, but you realized that others loved it as well? An entire subculture existed in the States that connected you with fans all over the world. You could then talk about, cheer, gripe, and talk some more about the jugo bonito. I love talking with John and the Rabbi here at the BW, as well as Kevin, Bo (a friend of mine who works and writes for World Soccer Talk), John P. and others on Twitter. I even come across guys who want to know more about soccer, but don't have anyone to talk to. It's proven to build great relationships not just about the game, but in other avenues as well. When and with whom do you talk about soccer?
Writing Makes an Exact Man. As I mentioned before, I started writing the Monday Wave back in May (thanks, Chris White, for bringing me on). Back in February, I because (apparently!) the Assistant Editor for the Wave (thanks, John Rosch) where I wrote less on tactics and strategy and more on how and why the fans process play the way they do--and I'm commissioned to do this 2-3 times per week. But it's been the best thing for me to understand the game better, to get to know some great guys that write for the B-Dub, and to interact with other fans. Do any of you have a blog? Do you write about soccer? Let us know about it.
But through it all, something has become clear: soccer is something I thoroughly enjoy, but it's not my life--and it's can't be. It's a hobby. It's something I share with my children (for we play two on two every night in our backyard, plus we love our seats in the South Stands). It's something I enjoy with my friends. I am thrilled when they win, disappointed when they lose, and am even starting to see good things even in a 0-0 match. I look forward to watching the game with my family tomorrow night (oh, the fireworks, too!).
Leave us some comments.